The Six Categories Of Personal Protective Equipment
Some risks, such as hearing protection, may well be covered by other specific safety regulations and so it will be important to identify such risks and ensure that any safety equipment complies with those regulations. Below is a brief summary of the six main types of safety equipment available from PPE suppliers to help protect employees as well as ensure the business fully complies with current safety at work legislation.
Eyes - The eyes require protection in a wide variety of industries, from chemicals which may splash, liquid metal which may splash, from dust particles, including harmful dust or even pollen. Eyes also need to be protected from a wide variety of projectiles, or items which can potentially be ejected. Gasses, fumes and vapours are also risks which need to be considered. There is also a need for eye protection in industries where there are potential radiation hazards.
In each of these cases eye protection needs to be not only provided, but chosen with care, since each different type of risk requires a different type of eye protection. For example, protecting the eyes from projectiles will require shatter proof goggles, but such goggles are unlikely to provide a tight seal, and so would be useless in cases where there was a danger of fumes or vapours. In some cases there may be a combination of potential risks, and so eye wear needs to be chosen to provide protection against all potential risks.
Head - The main risks to the head are from falling or flying objects, although head protection is also often required in environments where there may be a risk of head bumping, such as in locations which have a low ceiling or scaffolding. Head protection also includes situations where there is a danger of hair entanglement, and there may also be situations where a combination of risks needs to be considered.
Breathing - The obvious risks include dust, fumes, vapours, gas and environments where the air quality is poor and oxygen levels low, such as confined spaces. Disposable face pieces and respirators offer one level of protection, but full face air-fed helmets may be required in more serious cases. Where a breathing apparatus is required in conjunction with other equipment, such as eye protection or head protection, compatibility issues need to be identified early on.
Body - Protection against both heat and cold as well as a variety of weather conditions need to be considered, as well as protecting against chemical or metal splashing, high pressure leaks or sprays, impact or penetration risks, contaminated dust or the risk of clothing being entangled all need to be considered. A wide variety of personal protective equipment is available, but again compatibility with other items needs to be identified.
Hands/Arms - The hands are necessarily in the line of fire when it comes to many common risks, such as abrasion, cutting, puncturing, impacts, chemicals, electric shock, heat, cold and risks such as diseases or contamination. However, such protection needs to be weighed up carefully against any potential risks which could be exacerbated by long term wearing of such equipment.
Feet/Legs - Safety boot, shoes and a variety of leg wear is available to protect from falling or dropped objects, chemicals, liquid metal, slipping, electric shock, heat, cold and wet conditions.
With all personal protective equipment it is essential to evaluate the potential risk or risks accurately and fully, as well as considering any compatibility problems. If in doubt many of the major PPE suppliers in the UK will be happy to discuss your concerns with you.
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